How can funders honor the time that grantseekers spend on application processes in instances where the nonprofit is not selected for a grant? In cases where they are, will the grant award cover the time and expense the grantee spent? Read on to find out how the Walter and Elise Haas Fund is addressing those questions. 

Grantmakers grapple with how to value the time a grantseeker spends completing the grant application, wrangling the financials, and perfecting work samples. Will the grant award fully cover the time and expense? We hope it will, but we pause when the request is declined: was that a sunk cost for the applicant? Will they recoup the investment they made by presenting the materials to another funder, this time successfully? Or is it really just a gamble?

At the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, we’re thinking those questions through. We hover over our grants management system analytics, our rankings at Grant Advisor, and the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Grantee Perception Report to see if people are being compelled to spend inordinate amounts of time making their case to us. Spurred by global pandemic and racial justice reckoning, we interrogated what we ask of grantseekers, and what we ask of ourselves, when assembling insights and evidence to support a great grant recommendation. We were also inspired by a model in our own backyard.

The Walter & Elise Haas Fund is not alone in seeking to honor grantseeker time spent in the “speculative” part of the process. We’re inspired by peers as diverse as the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, United Way of Olmsted County, and the James Irvine Foundation for informing our practice. Their examples and our experience helped us develop these takeaways:

  • Consider the value of the information grantseekers provide to your grantmaking writ large.
  • Collect and analyze the data: How much time are grantseekers and community spending in your process?
  • Operationalize: Budget for grantseeker and community participation as part of the universe of consultant expertise brought to your grantmaking.
  • Reflect: Invite feedback on how honorable the honoraria felt to your grantseekers, grantees, and community.
  • Iterate! A long-term commitment to finding how this works in each of our foundations will transform our relationships with grantseekers and inspire and inform the sector.

Read the full article about honoring grantseeker time by Suki O’Kane at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.